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Full of daring, she used to lead her little brother, whose tender years were ill equipped for so much enterprise, into the most perilous adventures, such as commanding him, to his terror, to follow her example in jumping from the top of a garden wall nine feet high to the ground. Some of these early letters are to her parents, others of which fragmentary extracts are given, are to Flora Russell who remained her intimate friend all her life. They intermarry a great deal with these slaves and the son of a slave woman is as good as another.She used to alight on her feet, he very seldom did. Flora was the elder daughter of Lord and Lady Arthur Russell, who lived in Audley Square. Sheikh Muhammad went to and fro, superintending the cooking and bringing food for us all.Gertrude was eight when her father and I were married. Her letters often recount what she was doing with her two little sisters who adored her. Some letters are here given that she wrote between 18 during the time spent in England in one of our two homes either in London in the house shared with my mother or at Redcar, where we lived until 1904. It was a wild looking party that was gathered round the coffee pot.She was a child of spirit and initiative, as may be imagined. These letters are mostly about every day happenings, always lifted into something new and exciting by Gertrude's youthful zest. There's lots of negro blood in them, owing, I think, to their having negro slaves, one of whom was with them.In the letters contained in this book there will be found many Eastern names, both of people and places, difficult to handle for those, like myself, not conversant with Arabic. They foreshadow the pictures given in her subsequent family letters of her gradual development on all sides through the years, garnering as she went the almost incredible variety of experiences which culminated and ended in Bagdad. Then after their father's second marriage the two Lascelles boys came into the circle as intimates and cousins, the sons of my sister Mary spoken of in the letters as Auntie Mary, wife of Sir Frank Lascelles. I found them breakfasting on dates,-camels' milk and the bitter black coffee of the Arabs--a peerless drink.The Arabic alphabet has characters for which we have no satisfactory equivalents and the Arab language has sounds which we find it difficult to reproduce. Anthony Henley, The Dowager Countess of Jersey, Mary Countess of Lovelace, Hon. Letters written when she was twenty show that after her triumphant return from Oxford with one of the most brilliant Firsts of her year she threw herself with the greatest zest into all the amusements of her age, sharing in everything, enjoying everything, dancing, skating, fencing, going to London parties; making ardent girl friendships, drawing in to her circle intimates of all kinds. Florence Lascelles, my sister's only daughter, is constantly mentioned in the letters. Gertrude Lowthian Bell, the most brilliant student we ever had at Lady Margaret Hall, or indeed I think at any of the women's colleges. I also made a supplementary breakfast with them and then we all started off together.We have therefore in dealing with them to content ourselves with transliterations, some of which in words more or less frequently used in English have become translations, such as 'Koran,' 'kavass,' etc. She also loved her country life, in which her occupations included an absorbing amount of gardening, fox hunting--she was a bold rider to hounds--interesting herself in the people at her father's ironworks, and in her country village, making friends in every direction. She was a good deal younger than her two brothers and Gertrude, but as she grew up she was always one of Gertrude's chosen friends and companions. When Gertrude was fifteen and Maurice had gone to school, she went, first as a day scholar and afterwards as a boarder, to Queen's College in Harley Street, where a friend of her mother's, Camilla Croudace, had just been made Lady Resident. Her journeys in Arabia and her achievements in Iraq have passed into history. RED BARNS, November 25th, 1889 My gown came from Kerswell this morning-charming I am so glad I did not have a black one. The reason Sheikh Muhammad wants to travel with me is that he is anxious to have the extra protection of my three soldiers--he has two of his own--fearing a raid of Arabs on his camels on the way to Karyatein.
Besides these home letters, she found time for a large =and varied correspondence with friends outside her home circle both male and female, among the former being some of the most distinguished men of her time. Went to bed tired, had a little talk not fun and went to sleep. [Gertrude never entirely mastered the art of spelling, and all her life long there were certain words in her letters that were always spelt wrong. I have read Swinburne's Jonson which I will keep for you, it is quite excellent. The stone used here is a beautiful white limestone that looks like marble and weathers a golden yellow, like the Acropolis. I got up feeling extremely brisk, and spent the whole morning exploring Palmyra. I am returning by the ordinary tourist route, The old high road across the desert.
I had a great Chase all over the hall and dining room to catch her and bring her to Papa. As Auntie Ada let Mopsa go down she hissed at Kitty and hunted her round to my side of the table. I send you my love and to Granmama and Auntie Florence. [At the time that the above letter was written, the two children were living with their father at Redcar on the Yorkshire coast. At Redcar she shouldered the housekeeping and also various activities among the women at the ironworks, Clarence, Often mentioned, being Bell Bros. Her letters of this time give a picture of her relation to the Younger children-her step-brother and her two Step-sisters, Hugo, Elsa and Molly. It is so heavenly here with all the things coming out and the grass growing long. Nothing but bread and dates and milk and coffee, and little enough of that.
Please Papa says will you ask Auntie Florence if she will order us some honey like her own. His unmarried sister, Ada Bell, was then living with them. Hugo was ten years Younger than Gertrude, Elsa eleven years younger, Molly thirteen years. The little girls spent all day with Hunt [their nurse] at her brother-in-laws. Molly says he was a very kind man, he gave them strawberries and cream and lots of flowers but to their surprise he had no servants though he has a conservatory! Often the bread runs short, and only dates and milk remain.
Gertrude herself in her letters used often to spell the same word in different ways, sometimes because she was trying experiments in transliteration, sometimes deliberately adopting a new way, sometimes because the same word is differently pronounced in Arabic or in Turkish. I am also much indebted to the following for placing at my disposal maps or photographs, letters or portions of letters from Gertrude in their possession, or accounts of her written by themselves: Captain J. To most people outside her own circle Gertrude was chiefly known by her achievements in the East, and it is probably the story of these that they will look for in this book. The pigion was brought into our room it drank some milk Maurice spilt a lot on my bed. The History Lecturer at Queens College at that time was Mr. Gertrude's intelligence and aptitude for history impressed him keenly, and he strongly urged us to let her go to Oxford and go in for the History School. She had a most engaging way of saying 'Well you know, my father says so and so' as a final opinion on every question under discussion-[and indeed to the end of her life Gertrude, with the same absolute confidence would have been capable of still quoting the same authority as final]. Yesterday morning I went to the French Literature class at Caroline's [Hon. It is lovely, you must learn it the first dancing lesson you are here. We had a very agreeable chat and they gave me some gingerbread biscuits, for which I blessed them and we made plans for meeting in Damascus.
These variations in spelling have added a good deal to the difficulty of editing her letters especially as reference to expert opinion has occasionally shown that experts themselves do not always agree as to which form of transliteration is the best. But the letters here published, from the time she was twenty until the end of her life, show such an amazing range of many-sided ability that they may seem to those who read them to present a picture worth recording at every stage. The time had not yet come when it was a usual part of a girl's education to go to a University, and it was with some qualms that we consented. Gertrude went to Lady Margaret Hall, in 1886 just before she was eighteen, she left it in June 1888 just before she was twenty, and wound up, after those two years, by taking a brilliant First Class in Modern History. Courtney, who, in a delightful article contributed to the North American Review, entitled "Gertrude Bell, a personal study" and also in her interesting book "Recollected in Tranquillity," has described Gertrude as she was when she first arrived at Lady Margaret Hall-I quote both from the article and the book. "She threw herself with untiring energy into every phase of college life, she swam, she rowed, she played tennis, and hockey, she danced, she spoke in debates; she kept up with modern literature, and told us tales of modern authors, most of whom were her childhood's friends. Kitcat] and I walked across the Green Park to the London Library where I had a delicious rummage with a very amiable sub-librarian who routed out all the editions of Sir Th. Sidney for me to see I took down the names and dates and armed with these I felt prepared to face Bain himself. Mrs Norman Grosvenor] house, I came back here, dressed, and went to Queen Street for a seven o'clock dinner-we were going to the Spanish exhibition after it. The children and I played the race game in the nursery. It was so fine this afternoon, a rough sea almost up to the esplanade. I wouldn't really have changed places with them, and I prefer a Sheikh from Nejd to a dragoman from Jerusalem as a travelling companion.